Poverty is a significant issue in Alberta. People on fixed incomes are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the costs of living. Currently, 12 per cent of Albertans live in poverty, including 14.4 per cent of Alberta's children between the ages of 0 and 14.
Alberta's minimum wage is $9.75 per hour, the second lowest of all Canadian provinces and territories. According to the Parkland Institute, 50 per cent of women earn less than $25,000 per annum. To illustrate, that would be approximately $10.00 per hour less than Alberta's average wage rate of $23.80 per hour in 2009.
Statistics Canada's 2010 Consumer Price Index, which shows the rate of price change for goods andservices bought by Canadian consumers, shows that overall "all-goods" in Alberta have increased in price by 22.7% since 2002. This is the greatest increase in rate of price change out of all Canadian provinces. With increases such as this, it is difficult for many Albertans to find their way out of poverty.
People living in poverty are more likely to have health problems and to run into issues with the law. Pro-actively addressing the root cause of poverty can result in relieving some of the pressure on Alberta's health and justice systems.
There needs to be a broad-based response to poverty in Alberta, one that acknowledges that no government or organization alone can create an effective, measureable and efficient poverty reduction strategy. We need to work together to identify complementary local strategies and create a coordinated province-wide poverty reduction plan that benefits all Albertans.